It's true. This latest concoction that you see below is definitely a contender for one of my best homemade frozen treats this summer! The texture was consistently creamy through and through, not icy at all, and the flavor was complex and gourmet-ish but brought out the delighted child in me. It was all about the strawberries that were organic and pleasantly but not overly sweet from my farmer's market. Plus the deep rosy color was incredible. I think the yogurt really gave it a nice texture, and it was even non-fat.
Before I give you a recipe, let me just say that I have learned that tasting throughout the whole process is key, even while churning. Not only is it tasty, but it gives me "data checkpoints" along the way so that I understand what's happening and can make adjustments accordingly. In this way, ice cream making is more like cooking than baking, and it also has that element of "feel" that is central to bread-making that can only come from hands-on experience. There is a science to it though, since certain ingredients aid in texture and ratios can be useful. Since tasting throughout will diminish your final quantity, make sure to factor this in at the start.
How does this translate to my process? Never follow an exact recipe for ice cream; use it as a guideline only. For instance, don't dump in 3/4 c. sugar all at one time but add gradually in small increments and taste the impact. Same goes for vanilla, lemon juice, and other flavorings. If I add dairy to a fruit base, I also add to taste. Eggs are different though, but it's helpful to find your ideal egg to base ratio for custard bases...I like 1 yolk per 1 c. of base. I don't generally use eggs or anything too overpowering (like heavy cream) in fruit bases though. Now I'm rambling...
Without further ado, here's my guideline for strawberry balsamic yogurt gelato (I'm not calling it frozen yogurt b/c it tastes more like gelato than fro yo):
Makes 3/4 qt.
3 c. of fresh organic strawberries, hulled
2-3 tsp. balsamic vinegar (optional)
about 10 TB sugar, both granulated and superfine
about 1 c. plain yogurt (I used TJ's French Village non-fat)
Macerate hulled berries in 5 TB granulated sugar and 1 tsp. of balsamic for at least 30 min. Puree in blender and strain. Taste and add pinch salt if desired. Now gradually add superfine sugar til mixture is tad too sweet. Slowly add plain yogurt in 1/4 c. increments til desired flavor. Readjust sugar and balsamic, keeping in mind that flavors will dull a bit once frozen. Use whisk to get out lumps and blend ingredients well.
If base is fairly cold, then churn, otherwise let chill a bit in fridge. Once base has transformed from liquid to more solid mass, taste. If flavor concentration is good, then turn off and freeze accordingly. If too concentrated and more air is desired, then let go longer. I churned this batch for about 15-20 min. Enjoy!